8 Meeting House Green, the David T. Kimball House (1808)

8 Meeting House Green, the David T. Kimball House (1808)

The leaders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony located their second jail in Ipswich in 1652. For most of the early years the jail was located on or near the site of the Kimball House, 8 Meeting House Green. In 1808 the site was sold to Reverend David Tenny Kimball; the old jail was removed, and he built the house that is located there now. Thomas Franklin Waters wote:,

“The sheriff reported in 1769 that the Goal was very defective and out of repair, and on December 25, 1770, plans for a new building with keeper’s house were presented and approved, and a building committee was appointed to proceed forthwith. This plan has been preserved in the Court Files. The committee was instructed to negotiate with the Town for a proper site. The Town voted that it would provide a suitable place for the new prison on the west end of the county-house, provided that the County would relinquish its right in the land on the east side of the old house, for building a workhouse…. The County and Town agreed to set the Goal at the west end of the County House and the Committee of the Town of Ipswich have agreed to set off for that purpose at the west end of said County House… “provided the County relinquish their right to the land the old Goal now stands” (Town Records) . This exchange of land was made, additional land was purchased of Robert Perkins, who owned and lived on the spot now occupied by Mr. John H. Cogswell’s residence, and the prison was built at once. On March 31, 1772, the Justices viewed and approved the building, and ordered that “the two lower rooms and the two chambers be henceforth made use of its his Majesty’s Goal in this County, and that the upper apartment be for a House of Correction.” The plan shows that the prison was a two story building with gambrel roof, and that the rooms under the roof were used for the House of Correction.

“The County found the small attic rooms insufficient for the County House and bought the Dummer Jewett property on the south side and erected a new building for prison use in 1790 and 1791. Land on Green street was bought and a new jail was built of stone, near the present House of Correction, in 1806; and in 1808, the old Goal site, with its yard was sold to Rev . David Tenney Kimball. The deed gives the bounds… the gaol reserved to be taken away Jan. 1, 1808 (185: 152).”

Rev. Kimball was highly respected for his ministry and for his character. he was a staunch abolitionist so it wasn’t surprising that many important people were entertained here, including Lyman Beecher, Daniel Webster, and the founders of the Ipswich Female Seminary, Zilpah Grant and Mary Lyon. Mary Lyon later went on to found Mount Holyoke College.

Kimball house, Meeting House Green, Ipswich MA
The Rev. David Kimball house

The house is much altered from its early glory. The roof has been changed and the chimneys are gone. The Federal style doorway was widened to include sidelights. In early years the house also featured graceful elms and a picket fence. (from “A Walking Tour and Brief History of Early Ipswich Massachusetts“ produced by the Ipswich Visitors Center, Marjorie Robie and William Varrell.)

From Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony:

In 1806 Rev. David Tenney Kimball, a graduate of Harvard in the class of 1803, was introduced to the people of the First Church of Ipswich as pastor. The church oversight committee recommended that the Parish offer Rev. Kimball the sum of $600.00 /year, to be regulated according to the price of the necessaries of life, and to rise and fall according to the price of said necessities. In case of his being unable by the Providence of God to perform said duties & services that sum to be reduced to four hundred dollars. It was agreed by the Parties that the said Salary is always to be paid in Cash. The committee and Rev. Kimball agreed on the following articles and prices:

  • Hard wood $5 per cord
  • Indian Corn $90 per bushel
  • Rye $1.10 per bushel
  • Flour $7.50 per barrel
  • Pork $.07 per lb
  • Beef $4.00 per hundred
  • English Hay $12.00 per ton
  • Salt Hay $6.00 per ton
  • Cyder $1.50 per bbl
  • Brown Sugar of first quality $11.00 per hundred
  • Coffee $ .20 per lb
  • Best West India Rum $ .84 per gallon

It was soon found that sundry articles had been omitted in the schedule. In 1810 the sum of $70 was voted to make good the deficiency of the past three years. By 1819 a considerable number had withdrawn from the church to form the Baptists Society, the new Methodist Church and the newly organized Unitarian Church.

Rev. Kimball’s house is in the center of this early 20th Century photo. The chimneys are gone and a porch has been added but otherwise this view of Meeting House Green is virtually unchanged except for the loss of the Elm Trees.

The Pastor, greatly troubled by these withdrawals addressed a letter to his Parish on June 3, 1830.

Brethren and Friends,

The present is a time of great trial both to Ministers and Religious Societies. None can know but those who possess a pastor’s heart, you also as a Society have had your trials. As a token of sympathy for them I virtually inclose you the sum of One Hundred Dollars in the receipt inseparably connected with this by which I reduce my salary for the last year to $457.41.

With the best wishes for your temporal and spiritual welfare,
Your affectionate Pastor David T. Kimball


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